Food is such a big part of life and community. Restaurants on the West Side of Buffalo, NY, where I live, have offered a continuing source of nourishment and gathering for decades. Two restaurants in particular, Santasierio’s and Deco Restaurant are near and dear to my heart.
I was 21 years old when Dominic Santasierio opened his restaurant at 1329 Niagara St., just doors away from my address at 1469 Niagara. Dominic’s sauce made from a family recipe, is still used today, and proof of its popularity. Santasierio’s is best known for comfort food, consistency in quality, large portions and reasonable prices.
This popular Italian American restaurant was the site where Sammy Consiglio and Molly Murphy, two tenants in my had their first date. After that, whenever they could, they would go back there again and again. They struggled for a whole year to keep their relationship quiet. I’ll share more about them another time.
David Abramovich, a Russian Jew and his 41-year-old cousin Samuel Jaroslow , a Polish Jew who came to America from the Pale of Russia in 1910 moved into my building in 1935. I can’t share their harrowing story now, but I can tell you that Santasiero’s helped them survive when they couldn’t afford kosher food. It was good, cheap and filled their bellies after a long workday.
The smells of all their leftovers – spaghetti, Italian wedding soup, eggplant parmesan – was delicious! Boy did I wish I could taste that food. Dominic Santasierio’s descendants will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary in 2021 and if I could shake any other building’s hand, this is the one I would choose!
Deco Restaurant first opened in 1918 when Gregory Deck opened a small stand on the corner of Main and Lisbon. The success of this stand gave way to more than fifty Deco lunch counters that eventually sprouted up around the city of Buffalo, NY. Molly Murphy, yes, the same one who dated Sammy Consiglio, got a waitress job there in the early 1930’s, in the restaurant on West Eagle Street, on the corner of Pearl. She worked the late-night shift. It was a favorite spot at night for cops, late night revelers, and the homeless. Young, old, rich, poor, came together to get a good cup of coffee for 10 cents, 5-cent hamburger, or a hot dog and Cherry Coke. The spot was small but popular, and you were lucky if you could get a dining stool at the counter. Molly just loved working there.
I honor Santasierio’s and Deco, for their dedication to the local customers of Buffalo, NY. These restaurants fed hundreds and hundreds of people, helping them survive tough times and celebrate good times.